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Stage Set For Bobby Quillen Memorial

Published: October 13, 2008 9:40 pm ET

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The 2nd Annual Bobby Quillen Memorial Pace, which attracted many of harness racing's hardest hitters, got underway Monday at Harrington Raceway in the form of a pair of $30,000 eliminations.

The top four finishers from each elimination will return to compete in the $317,000 final on October 20.

Joe Muscara's Mister Big stepped to a 1:51.1 victory in his elimination for driver Brian Sears and trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. It was the eighth consecutive score for the five-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear.

Sears settled into third with Mister Big while pacesetter Western Ace set early fractions of :28 and :55.4. Mister Big mounted a first-over attack as the field rolled to the three-quarters pole. That fraction popped up in 1:23.1.

Mister Big began to edge clear on the final turn and opened up by two lengths at the wire. Won the West was second, Kenneth J was third and Western Ace faded to finish fourth.

"I wanted to keep him close tonight, he knows what to do at the head of the lane," said Sears. "He loves to race from off the pace and track them down. I'm real happy with the way he handled the turns tonight."

Mister Big earned his 10th win of the year and pushed his bankroll near the $3.2 million mark.

"He's definitely one of the best I've ever driven," said Sears. "I'm going to look back in a few years and really be able to appreciate just how great he was."

Four Friends Racing Stable's Palone Ranger won the other split in 1:51.3 for trainer Greg Peck and driver Ron Pierce. The five-year-old son of Western Ideal used the same tactics at Mister Big to pick up the win.

He battled first-over as pacesetter Took Hanover began to yield after three-quarters in 1:23.3. Palone Ranger sprinted clear in the stretch and prevailed by a length over Maltese Artist and Booze Cruzin. Took Hanover held on to finish fourth.

"He's such a nice little horse," said Pierce. "He always gives you 100 percent and Greg Peck's done a great job with him. This race wasn't too tough on him."

It was the 11th lifetime victory for Palone Ranger, who now boasts earnings in excess of $1.2 million.

(Harrington Raceway)

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